DLA Piper is one of the biggest law firms in the world — a global firm with more than 90 offices, having rapidly expanded through mergers of unprecedented scope. In fact, it’s the product of one of the largest law firm mergers in history, in 2005. And it has enjoyed robust growth since.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the firm is its polycentrism, or its practice of not having a global headquarters. We understand that the idea is to reduce stuffiness, or concentration of power in a particular office. The verein (a German word for an association with a common purpose, which tends to be non-hierarchical) structure of the firm further allows the members of the firm to finance operations on their own terms. Basically, there are lots of opportunities for offices to make decisions independently.
The industry-focused Chinese practice was set up in 1988 and the firm has collected some big clients along the way. We’re talking giants like Standard Chartered Bank, JP Morgan, and Tesco, following the British supermarket chain’s expansion to China. The firm’s long presence in China has seen it advise on some landmark cases too, such as the 22-year trademark battle of world-famous shoe designer, Manolo Blahnik.
Now with over 130 fee-earners, the Hong Kong office is quickly expanding. New partner hires have recently joined from firms such as Linklaters, Mayer Brown and Akin Gump.
Being a full-service global behemoth means DLA Piper comprises multiple highly regarded practice areas. Its intellectual property practice is viewed as particularly successful, as is its technology and media practice in the Greater China region. The firm’s restructuring practice is well sought after, with clients ranging from financial institutions to private equity firms. There is a lot of talk about innovation too. The firm’s very own FinTech engine, TOKO, is known for its creative method of providing financing to the firm’s clients.
A full service offering further allows trainees to be exposed to clients across a range of sectors, including infrastructure, technology, finance and many more. “The diversity of work is great,” says a trainee solicitor. “In the first few months of the litigation seat, I have cooperated with our UK, US and German offices, met clients, liaised with government officials, attended court hearings, just to name a few.”
Indeed, there’s lots to expect as a trainee. True to its international roots, the firm kick-starts its Hong Kong training programme with an induction course in London. One can thus expect to be roped into the firm’s global milieu right from the very start. In the vibrant Hong Kong office, you can expect to encounter people speaking a good mix of Asian languages, including Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese.
Throughout the training contract, there are international secondments and work placements available in destinations such as Thailand and Australia, but recent batches of trainees haven’t been able to complete any owing to the coronavirus and quarantine restrictions, which have since eased so expect these to resume. We also understand that trainees are given “real work and responsibility” during their contract. This is equally true for secondments. Recalling their experience seconded to the firm’s London corporate department, one trainee says: “I assisted from the early stage of the due diligence process to verification, prospectus drafting and all preparation work leading up.”
We also hear the firm goes above and beyond to support your professional development. At least one trainee got a chance to do a four-week Melbourne placement, enabling her to fulfil the admission requirements in Australia.
Once qualified, the firm’s large size means your specialism preferences are likely to be accommodated, and the training continues well beyond the training contract.
Beyond breadwinning work, the firm takes its social responsibility seriously as well, as shown by its 2021-22 count of over 2,700 pro bono hours. Some of the issues on which the firm advised pro bono include rights of refugees, women and the LGBT+ community. There is a rising sensibility towards the environment and climate change too. DLA Piper has adopted a global energy reduction plan and has also adopted science-based targets for net-zero carbon emissions.
The firm’s big move to its brand new and modern offices in Three Exchange Square means it neighbours other big-name firms. The grind of working in a firm like DLA Piper is mellowed by the office views which overlook the harbour and will help ease the pain of any long nights! What’s more, you can explore other Central attractions, thanks to the pedestrian bridge.
DLA Piper currently offers up to seven training contracts. There is also a three-week summer vacation scheme where interns are automatically assessed for a training spot. To be eligible to apply, you need a 2:1 degree classification and excellent English and Chinese skills, both written and verbal.